A Mardi Gras tradition – King Cake is a sweet dough topped with frosting a colored sprinkles.
Did you know that today is Mardi Gras?!
A few years ago we were in New Orleans the weekend before Mardi Gras (purely by accident- we were celebrating my friend Camille’s bday) and it is complete madness. People are literally hanging out on balconies throwing beads to people below! It makes for some great people watching.
New Orleans is one of those places that I absolutely love (PS – I’m super excited to be going back in less than 2 weeks!!) and Mardi Gras gives me one more reason to enjoy some of my favorite dishes from the Big Easy. If you’re feeling festive and want to make a classic New Orleans style dish for dinner, check out the Jambalaya and Gumbo recipes I’ve got on the blog!
One popular Mardi Gras tradition is King Cake – which is a cake baked in honor of the three kings. King cakes are made from dough shaped in the form of a ring, and filled with cinnamon or other assorted fillings. It’s glazed with frosting and topped with colored sugar.
The quirky thing about these cakes is that there is a plastic baby hidden inside. It’s said that whoever receives the baby in their piece of cake must provide the next King Cake or host the next years party. How fun is that? Come on, who doesn’t love finding little plastic babies in their food?! If you want to play along with the tradition, you can find little plastic babies at party stores in the section with the baby shower stuff.
- ½ cup milk
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- ⅓ cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup chopped pecans
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- Green, Purple and yellow sprinkles for garnish
- Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
- When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
- Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, ½ cup flour and ½ cup raisins. Pour ½ cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
- Roll dough into large rectangle (about 10x16). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of the roll together to form a ring. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts ⅓ of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.
- In a small bowl combine sugar and confectioners’ sugar. Drizzle frosting over warm cake, and top with colored sprinkles.